Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: French better than England at starting from scratch

England were wholly embarrassed by the French at Wembley last week. Considering that both countries had diabolical World Cups, it wasn’t difficult to determine whose recovery was the greater.

And I don’t care that, probably, only three of that England line up are likely to play in the next European Championship qualifier in Cardiff in March — Ferdinand, Gerrard and Milner: I’m ruling out the appalling Barry. There should have been enough talent at Capello’s disposal for the team wearing white to pass the ball semi-decently. They didn’t and were outclassed.

For years the French have had that magnificent ‘football factory’, Clairefontaine. The English FA made provision for a National Centre at Burton-on-Trent then, basically, shelved it. It was only last Thursday — pure coincidence surely? — that they announced work would finally begin in the New Year.

Perhaps it finally struck home that instead of putting every emphasis on the pursuit of attracting another World Cup, it might also be relevant to develop young talent capable of actually performing well in it.

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